Note: Due to space limitations, only the major theaters and companies in the Advocate’s coverage area are mentioned here. Throughout the year, the Advocate regularly lists theaters from all around the state.

Alliance Theater, 203-435-4651, The decades-old community troupe has cut back on its grown-up offerings, yielding UNH’s Dodds Hall stage to school-run, student-cast shows. But it still runs its popular children’s theater series there, stages Lanford Wilson’s Black Nativity every Christmas and does one or two other full-scale productions a year.

Connecticut┬┐ Free Shakespeare, 203-393-3213, One of a few professional companies doing outdoor summer Shakespeare in Connecticut, CFS started with annual shows at the Beardsley Zoo (Bridgeport) and now also plays the Guilford Green and Old Saybrook Green, usually in July and August. The troupe’s parent company, Dandelion Productions (run by Ellen Lieberman, sister to senator Joe, and her husband Bert Garskof) also involves itself with school tours, benefits and other theatrical pursuits.

Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus, 203-777-2923, More than an a cappella group, the CGMC (led for much of its 20-plus-year history by the estimable off-Broadway composer/arranger Winston Clark) presents full-blown revues replete with comedy sketches. Touring throughout the state, New Haven’s CGMC venue of choice has become the Shubert, where they have a Christmas show every December and another show in springtime. Some of the guys can regularly be found at the 168 York Street Café, a longtime sponsor of CGMC events.

Connecticut Storytelling Center, 860-439-2764, A year-round program based at Connecticut College for more than 20 years, the center’s flagship event is Tellabration, which brings dozens of storytellers to theaters, schools and coffeeshops throughout the state for a week in mid-November.

Crescent Players, Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St., 203-392-6154, The student theater at SCSU. Does the usual sort of plays and musicals, but also uses the Black Box space at the Lyman Center for new and experimental student-directed works.

Eastbound Theatre Company, Milford’s Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Ave. S., Milford, 203-882-0969, A scrappy community theater at a cool location, the former Milford train station, that hosts a summer festival and puts on a few other productions a year (this season will see Rope, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, The Actor’s Nightmare and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife).

Educational Center for the Arts, 55 Audubon St., 203-777-5451, This arts magnet high school is representative of the quality training and intriguing production choices found at some of the better area schools. (If you enjoy watching teens stretch into difficult classics, adult dramas and works based on serious social issues, you should also check out New Haven’s Cooperative High School, Hamden High School and Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford.)

Elm Shakespeare Company┬┐┬┐, 203-393-1436, James Andreassi and his classically adept cohort have been bringing Shakespeare outdoors to Edgerton Park (on the New Haven/Hamden border) for more than a decade. These family-friendly shows, usually done in August, are cut for breadth and clarity and sometimes venture into hip-hop or slapstick interludes. ESC performs two shows at Edgerton, and has added non-Shakespeare works to its repertoire.

Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, 305 Great Neck Rd., Waterford, 860-443-5378, A retreat and workshop for theater professionals, and a godsend for adventurous audiences. Holds annual conferences for puppeteers, playwrights, cabaret performers and musical theater creators, with each gathering culminating in affordable bare-bones public performances. Much of the August Wilson canon, Lee Blessing’s Pulitzer-winning A Walk in the Woods and the snarky Broadway musical Avenue Q are among the many hits developed here, but the ones that never go anywhere else can be just as interesting. The center also oversees a local tourist attraction, the Monte Cristo Cottage, where O’Neill based his plays Ah, Wilderness! and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Flock Theatre, 860-443-3119, Edgy, experimental New London-based theater company with an affinity for puppets. Besides helping out at the O’Neill Center’s annual Puppetry Conference, Flock does a summer Shakespeare show (this year saw King Lear and A Comedy of Errors).

Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London, 860-444-7373, A bona fide 1930s movie palace restored in the 1990s to its former magnificence and now serving as a multimedia performing arts center, with a Broadway subscription series (this year includes In The Heights, Shrek The Musical and Young Frankenstein), an opera series (Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Puccini’s La Boheme, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and Verdi’s Othello), other theater tours, concerts, comedy and skads of children’s shows.

Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main St., East Haddam, 860-873-8668, Dedicated to the preservation of American musical theater. Daring style experiments like Man of La Mancha, Shenandoah and Annie started at the Goodspeed. Essentially, Goodspeed shows you what a difficult and worthy art form the musical is. Besides the luxurious Goodspeed Opera House, the organization runs a separate venue in Chester, the Norma Terris Theatre (39 N. Main St.), where brand new musicals get workshopped. Some, like the Elvis show All Shook Up, make it to Broadway. The Goodspeed offers shows from spring through fall, instead of the school-year calendar most other theaters prefer. Still remaining on the 2011 slate at the main Opera House: Showboat and City of Angels.

Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton, 860-767-7318, Once the meeting hall for workers in the local piano-key-making trade, then an exalted summer stock theater that coaxed major stars who vacationed in Connecticut to tread its boards, and now a year-round professional theater. Check out The Marvelous Wonderettes and The Woman In Black this season.

Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Dr., 203-787-4282, Tony-winning regional theater founded in the city’s meat-transport district more than 40 years ago. Artistic directors have included Arvin Brown, Doug Hughes and, for nine years now, Gordon Edelstein, who’s great at balancing thoughtful new takes on classics with bold new works. The 2011-12 mainstage season begins with the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’.

Palace Theater, 100 E. Main St., Waterbury, 203-346-2000, Lavishly renovated vaudeville theater with concerts, children’s shows, community gatherings and some well-picked Broadway tours. This season includes South Pacific and In The Heights.

Seven Angels Theatre, Hamilton Park Pavilion, 1 Plank Rd., Waterbury, 203-757-4676, Part professional regional theater, part community treasure.

The Shubert, 247 College St., 203-562-5666, The “birthplace of America’s hits” — as a legendary pre-Broadway try-out spot for the first half of the 20th century — is now one of the places in our area where you can see Broadway hits and revivals on tour. This year’s crop includes Fela!, Rock of Ages, South Pacific and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Outside the subscription series, there are special theatrical offerings. The Shubert’s also a concert hall, an opera house, a reliable place to see A Christmas Carol in late November or early December, and a key venue for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas.

Yale Cabaret, 217 Park St., 203-432-1566, Extraordinary underground/experimental student-run dinner theater space, presenting a different show nearly every weekend for most of the school year. The offerings are rehearsed by the high-stamina students late at night, after classes, fueled with passion and the need to find new ways to communicate with audiences, and range from new works to radically rethought old ones. In the summer, the same space is used for a slightly more organized Summer Cabaret at Yale season of three or four shows. Many off-Broadway and New York fringe hits were born here, and actors such as Meryl Streep and Paul Giamatti were known here before the rest of the world found them.

Yale Dramatic Association, performs at the Yale Rep and the University Theatre, 222 York St., 203-432-1210, The undergraduate Yale Dramat is distinguished by its ambitious script choices, its legacy as one of the oldest college theaters in the country (founded in 1900) and the high intellect it tends to bring to its decidedly non-fluffy, inevitably thought-provoking productions. The 2011-12 agenda includes Tiger at the Gates, The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Sweeney Todd.

Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel St., 203-432-1234, This Tony-winning regional theater has helped develop key works by major writers such as August Wilson and Sarah Ruhl. It gives great directors a chance to stretch more than they might at other theaters. It hires major stars, and even creates some. It’s also a major teaching component of the Yale School of Drama (Dean James Bundy is also artistic director of the Rep), letting student designers, performers, dramaturgs and others help shape the productions.

Yale School of Drama, 1120 Chapel St., (box office; performances at various Yale-affiliated venues), 203-432-1234, Yale’s theater graduate program has become more open, inviting the public to special performances of many of its student productions. In the past, only the thesis productions by the third-year directing students and the recently added Carlotta Festival of New Plays by YSD playwrights were fully accessible to non-Yalies. Titles have yet to be announced, but second-year directing students are required to do verse projects (Shakespeare and the like); new works regularly get workshopped and plays with big casts (to accommodate the student actors) are encouraged. Exposing new audiences to projects at one of the top theater schools in the country is the brightest theater news of the year.